Thursday, July 15, 2010
July 15, 1952 - April 23, 1991
Hard to believe that it's been 19 years without Johnny Thunders.
I remember spending his 30th birthday with him and Stiv Bators on my very first visit to NYC's Lower East Side. I remember bumping into him in Paris on a cold grey morning, where he was the most brilliant sight for any eyes, in his fuchsia coat. That was in the 80s.
In the 70s, Johnny and his band mates in the New York Dolls were the faces that launched thousands of ships. In the odyssey that is rock n roll, The Dolls combined their love of girl groups, glam, roots rock and blues and came up with the music that paved the way for punk.
Last night, when I saw the opening night of the Batusis tour, Cheetah Chrome and Syl Sylvain tore through a couple Dolls songs: Jet Boy and Trash as well as Cheetah's great contribution to the punk rock songbook: Sonic Reducer. Afterward, when chatting with Cheetah about the set, he said that he had always been a fan of the Dolls... their music informed the songs he wrote for Rocket From the Tombs, Frankenstein and the Dead Boys.
The life of Johnny Thunders may have been cut short - his and Arthur Kane, and Stiv Bators and others in the immediate circle who shared a certain life and time in NYC - but he does live on...we are armed with his memory and influenced by what he left behind.